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4,000 bully XL owners apply for exemption from ban

Some 4,000 American bully XL owners have applied for exemption from an upcoming ban – but many more dogs could be out there, the UK’s chief vet says.

Dr Christine Middlemiss urged owners to apply before it becomes illegal to own a bully XL in England and Wales from 1 February.Owners who do not wish to keep their dogs can have them euthanised and apply for compensation for the cost.From 31 December all bully XLs must be kept on a lead and muzzled in public.It will also be illegal from this date to breed, sell, advertise, gift, exchange, and abandon these dogs or let them stray.Dogs on the exempt list will have to be neutered and microchipped.The ban was announced in September following a number of attacks involving the breed, and the exemption scheme was introduced for people who already owned XL bullies.

“We want to bring in the certificates of exemptions because we don’t have a way of understanding how many XL bullies there are and exactly where they are,” the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Middlemiss told BBC Breakfast.”It’s great that over 4,000 owners have already registered and we urge the remaining owners who have not registered and want to do so to get on with the process.”The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs says a majority of exemption certificates have already been issued.

There have been 351 attacks by bully breeds in 2023, according to campaign group Bully Watch.Hundreds of owners protested against the ban shortly after it was announced by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in September. Many insist that the dogs make lovable pets.Dr Middlemiss said it was difficult to say how many unregistered dogs remained in England and Wales, but that the government would work with local authorities and police forces to see where there had been non-compliance.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has published details defining an American Bully XL, which is not a breed recognised by the Kennel Club in the UK.According to this, the dogs are a “large dog with a muscular body and blocky head, suggesting great strength and power for its size. Powerfully built individual.”

“If your dog is meeting a significant number of the criteria, I advise a precautionary approach and register your dog,” Dr Middlemiss added.She said a combination of measures were being brought in by the government to protect the public, including rules on muzzling and breeding.To qualify for an exemption certificate, the dogs will also need to be neutered by 30 June.

If the dog is less than a year old by 31 January, they must be neutered by the end of 2024, and evidence must be provided.Those seeking an exemption must also pay a £92.40 application fee for administration costs, hold active public liability insurance for their pets and ensure the dogs are microchipped.People with dangerously out of control dogs can be jailed for 14 years and banned from owning animals, and their pets can be put down.


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